I knew that title would get your attention. Recently, I have been asked about a few criminal cases where the victim changed their mind after the suspect was named or arrested and decided they did not want to prosecute. What happens to the case now? Is there a case without the cooperation of the victim? Does the bad guy (or girl) get off ‘scot free’?
Well, I will tell you that a crook can still be crook whether the case is dismissed or brought to court. So lets at least not dismiss the perpetrators potential for future criminal behavior. Nevertheless, the big issue is cooperation from the victim. In most cases, with the exception of homicides, domestic violence and some sex crimes, the case will not survive in court without the victim. This can be extremely frustrating for police, citizens, or any stakeholders involved in the matter.
The victim’s cooperation supports the case in many ways. Providing testimony, necessary evidence, and a truthful account of what happened are just a few of the reasons victims need to be involved. Most district attorney’s I know will not pursue a case without involvement from the victim. This is especially true in property crimes, simple assaults, hit & run accidents, and other misdemeanors. Understandably, being a victim of a crime is not easy and many choose not to get involved due to fear, psychological and/or financial issues. In a perfect world, these issues should not play a role in our justice system, but they do.
Victim advocacy groups, attorneys, and police play a vital role in carrying the victim through this delicate and challenging process. Even then, the victim still needs to follow through with the case and the directions of the court. So in short, full cooperation from a victim can get you the best results in a criminal case, whether big or small.